Three years ago, my life was disrupted by a cancer diagnosis. I had to fight a battle like none I had ever faced before. Today, my life is disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. This time, it is not just my life that is disrupted, but literally that of every person on planet earth. We are all called upon to do our part in a war against an invisible enemy. A war not of our choosing.
How are you faring in the midst of this crisis? I know that many people are afraid for themselves and for their loved ones. Fear and uncertainty can be paralyzing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I want to share some thoughts, feelings and ideas about dealing with these challenges. My intent is to encourage and uplift, not by minimizing the pain and suffering which will befall some of us and people we know and love, but by drawing on the wisdom of others, tempered by my own life experience.
Be in control of your thoughts. As you think, so will be your experience. Our brains cause us much distress. We are wired to be on guard and ever vigilant about dangers that could be just around the corner.
There is every reason to do what it takes to mitigate the risk of corona virus infection. Follow the guidance of the medical experts and government authorities. Take necessary and appropriate actions. But, recognize that worry can become all consuming. Expecting the worst, leading to obsessive negativity, causes very real mental and emotional pain. As Seneca, the famous stoic philosophy wrote, “we suffer more in the imagination than reality.”
For me, there are parallels between the current crisis and what I experienced when I was battling stage 4 throat cancer. What I realized back then was that I had to decide how I was going to think about the challenge I faced. Did I have times when I thought about the worst possible outcome? Of course, I did. I knew that was a possibility. But it was not where I put my focus. Instead, I put my energy toward learning all I could about beating cancer and taking care of my whole self during the process. And I thought a lot about what I wanted to be and what I wanted to do on the other side of the battle.
Don’t just focus on things that could go wrong. Your mindset matters. Ask yourself: have you ever been able to accomplish great things when you were in a fearful state? Of course not. So, muster up the courage to move forward. Search for inspiration and fuel your mind, body and spirit accordingly.
Recognize that you can control your efforts and your attitude. Who do you want to be and what do you want to accomplish when this is over? Use this social distancing time well. Become a better version of yourself.
“The Pessimist Sees Difficulty in Every Opportunity. The Optimist Sees Opportunity in Every Difficulty.” – Winston Churchill